The earnings report of Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has spooked investors. Meta’s stock was trading at $230.21 on Friday morning — a decline of about 23% since the report. What makes it interesting is that Meta is adding a feature to combat virtual-reality harassment days after a woman said she was “virtually gang raped” in the company’s metaverse.
The news comes after a British mom said she was “virtually gang raped” while beta testing Meta’s Horizon Worlds late last year. Nina Jane Patel, 43, wrote in a blog post,
Within 60 seconds of joining — I was verbally and sexually harassed — 3-4 male avatars, with male voices, essentially, but virtually gang raped my avatar and took photos — as I tried to get away they yelled — ‘don’t pretend you didn’t love it’ and ‘go rub yourself off to the photo.
In her blog post, she went on to say,
Virtual reality has essentially been designed so the mind and body can’t differentiate virtual experiences from real and, hence, there’s a ‘realness’ to experiences in the virtual world.
In some capacity, my physiological and psychological response was as though it happened in reality.
As we invite more and more people into virtual reality, we need to become conscious to the fact that these are designed with ‘realness’ as a key component.
What Is This New Feature?
The feature, called “personal boundary,” will prevent other users’ virtual avatars from “invading your avatar’s personal space,” the company formerly known as Facebook said in blog post on Friday.
The feature will be rolled out within Meta’s Horizon Worlds and Horizon Venues virtual reality worlds starting on Friday. Meta said,
If someone tries to enter your Personal Boundary, the system will halt their forward movement as they reach the boundary. We believe Personal Boundary is a powerful example of how VR has the potential to help people interact comfortably.
The feature will kick in if other users come within about four feet of each other, the company said.
Statement By Woman Complainant
In a statement to The Post on Tuesday, Patel called on Meta to introduce stronger anti-harassment features. She said,
Harassment in the metaverses is a serious issue that the industry needs to come together on to put in place the correct security controls and safety measures.
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